Whether it’s getting a big grant submitted, paying my monthly bills, answering my emails, cleaning up before guests arrive, or leaving for work on time, I’m not one of those people who can wait to the last minute to do something. I don’t know if I missed the procrastination gene, or if I’ve just learned over the years that its better to do things before they start to stress you out, but I would rather get it done than waste time thinking about doing it. If you’re like me, you’ve probably already bought most of your holiday gifts for this year. But if you haven’t, and your friend or loved one enjoys spending time outdoors, here are a few inexpensive possibilities that are useful and won’t end up in the closet gathering dust.
When it comes to those who enjoy hiking, there’s nothing better than a good pair of socks. A nice blend with a high percentage of wool will help keep your feet warm in cold months and prevent dreaded blisters from forming. When I’m backpacking, I’ve learned to always take an extra pair or two. Unless your shoes are Gore-Tex and you wear gaiters, it’s more likely than not that at some point your feet are going to get wet. Having an extra pair of socks to change into as you crawl into the sleeping bag and before the next day’s hike is an invaluable commodity.
Especially in these winter months, toboggans and gloves are welcome accessories, as well. One of the few things I know how to knit, a handmade toboggan makes a great gift that shows a personal investment of time and thought. One of my friends came up from Florida last year and joined me for a hike and lost her toboggan, so I was able to knit a new one for her and send it to her for a holiday gift.
This time of year with hunting season going on I frequently wear an orange toboggan when out in the woods. For the hunter on your list, you could pick up a camouflage toboggan or fleece facemask to keep the chill off while they spend hours in a deer stand. And you can never have too many pairs of gloves – I’m always misplacing one and looking for a set as I head out the door. Now I leave a pair in the car so I have them on cold drives to work in the mornings.
If your friend is an avid birdwatcher, there are a variety of inexpensive gifts you can pick out for them. Bird feeders and birdseed are good gift options for the backyard birder, but for someone who enjoys spotting them while on walks in the woods, a pair of inexpensive waterproof binoculars is a good option. Although you can of course spend a lot of money on binos, there are some really good ones out there for as little as $40. Having just a little bit of magnification can really help out when you’re tracking these quick flying creatures.
A lot of nature-oriented organizations also print yearly calendars that make great gifts for outdoors lovers, and it’s a wonderful way to give back to the charity of your choice. The organization I work for, Three Rivers Land Trust, has a calendar for the second year this year featuring scenic pictures by local photographers taken right here in the central Piedmont, available at www.threeriverslandtrust.org. The National Parks Foundation also puts out a popular calendar every year with proceeds benefiting our national parks.
Other great small gifts for the outdoors people in your life include headlamps, water bottles, mugs, multi-tools, a compass, or a trail guidebook. The best trail guide for this area is the Uwharrie Lakes Region Trail Guide, second edition, by Don Childrey, available at www.donchildrey.com. A trail guide is a great gift that allows you to plan your next trip out to enjoy time together, which hopefully a few days off around the holidays allows everyone to do. The gift of time is the best gift of all, and sharing time outdoors provides memories you can cherish from year to year.